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Love the skin you are in

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Recently there was a picture of a beautiful dark skinned Vincentian goddess that went viral on social media. This warmed my heart for two main reasons. Firstly, I was so happy to own her as a fellow Vincentian; but secondly and most importantly, I was elated to see the adoration given to a beauty of dark skin. Not very long ago, we saw a culture where beauty was ascribed to persons of lighter complexion, to the extent that many wanted to ‘bleach’ and try other toxic measures to accomplish lighter skin.{{more}}

For many years throughout history, lighter skin was the order of the day for every woman. Having light skin implied affluence and a higher social standing, because it meant one could stay at home and not work (a perception which suggests “the grass is greener on the other side”). Meanwhile, someone with darker skin probably spent a good amount of their day working outdoors and labouring under the hot sun. Therefore, people with darker skin were thought to either be poor or have a low social standing. The question is therefore, “what has changed?”

Self-Acceptance:

It is extremely important that we get to a place where we can accept ourselves physically, just the way we were made. There are no two persons alike, not even identical twins are 100 per cent alike. As such, we have already by default been distinctively set apart as unique. From a spiritual standpoint, we were taught that we are fearfully and wonderfully made after the image of God; so, as an ardent believer, it is with pride that I would accept my physical appearance to be specially crafted by the Supreme God…and as a reflection of his handiwork I look at myself in the mirror, smile and say…Whoa!!! God did well:

To love yourself means to accept yourself as you are and to come to terms with those aspects of yourself that you cannot change. It means to have self-respect, a positive self-image, and unconditional self-acceptance.

Tips on loving the way you look:

1. Expand your notion of beauty:

o Realize that everyone is beautiful.

Once you believe this, you will witness beauty in infinite forms. While the media chooses to represent one image as the beauty ideal, this is a skewed and warped perspective, fabricated by those with vested interests, such as certain fashion houses.

Perfection does not exist – everyone you see around you has their own problems, insecurities, things they feel they could improve. You may not realize this since you can’t hear people’s thoughts. There is beauty in everyone. Look for it in others and tell people when you find them beautiful.

2. Practise self-care:

It’s amazing how feeling bad about yourself can make you neglect your body and spirit, turning your back on a nutritious diet, exercise, and relaxation. This will only serve to perpetuate a downward spiral of negativity. You feel bad about yourself, so you don’t take care of yourself which makes you feel even more negative as you deprive yourself of enough good attention, whether this be by taking time out to meditate or read books or articles that will inspire you.

3. Recognize and limit external factors that spark feelings of negativity:

Know your triggers – the things that immediately leave you feeling bad about yourself. These may be certain celebrity magazines or social media websites like Facebook. Identify them and take steps to limit their role in your life.

4. Discover the root cause that makes you feel bad:

You may hate an aspect or more of your appearance, convincing yourself, “If only I had a thinner body, I would be happy/successful/fulfilled.” However, more than likely, the real reason for your unhappiness lies under the surface. For example, your fixation on getting a better body may stem from an insecurity of never being “good enough.” If this is the case, you will always find an aspect of yourself to criticize. Identify the root cause and acknowledge how it’s led you to feel this way; and change your mind set.

“Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all” Michael Masser

Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

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